German Tribes invaded the Roman Empire and the Slavs occupied the Illyrian Provinces
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Augustulus had been declared Western Roman Emperor by his father, the rebellious general of the army in Italy, less than a year before, but had been unable to gain allegiance or recognition beyond central Italy. However, Orestes proved to be ambitious, and before the end of that year drove Nepos from Italy. Orestes then proclaimed his young son Romulus the new emperor, Romulus Augustulus.

However, Nepos reorganized his court in Salona, Dalmatia, and received homage and affirmation from the remaining fragments of the Western Empire beyond Italy and, most importantly, from Constantinople, which refused to accept Augustulus and branded him and his father traitors and usurpers.

At around this time, the foederati , who had been quartered on the Italians all of these years, had grown weary of this arrangement. In the words of J. Orestes was killed at Placentia, and his brother Paulus killed outside Ravenna. In Odoacer advanced to Ravenna and captured the city, compelling the young emperor Romulus to abdicate on September 4. Romulus Augustulus and Odoacer: Romulus Augustulus resigns the crown from a 19th-century illustration.

In , Odoacer became the first barbarian King of Italy, initiating a new era. With the backing of the Roman Senate, Odoacer thenceforth ruled Italy autonomously, paying lip service to the authority of Julius Nepos, the last Western emperor, and Zeno, the emperor of the East. He did so, executing the conspirators, but within two years also conquered the region and incorporated it into his domain. As the most tangible example of this renewed prestige, for the first time since the mid-3rd century copper coins were issued with the legend S enatus C onsulto. Zeno responded first by inciting the Rugi of present-day Austria to attack Italy.

During the winter of — Odoacer crossed the Danube and defeated the Rugi in their own territory. In his quest to destroy Odoacer, Zeno promised Theoderic the Great and his Ostrogoths the Italian peninsula if they were to defeat and remove Odoacer from power. On August 28, Odoacer met him at the Isonzo, only to be defeated. He withdrew to Verona, reaching its outskirts on September 27, where he immediately set up a fortified camp. Theoderic followed him and three days later defeated him again. On August 11, , the armies of the two kings clashed on the Adda River.

Odoacer was again defeated and forced back into Ravenna, where Theoderic besieged him. Ravenna proved to be invulnerable, surrounded by marshes and estuaries and easily supplied by small boats from its hinterlands, as Procopius later pointed out in his History. By this time, Odoacer had to have lost all hope of victory.

On August 29, , the Goths were about to assemble enough ships at Rimini to set up an effective blockade of Ravenna. Despite these decisive losses, the war dragged on until February 25, , when John, bishop of Ravenna, was able to negotiate a treaty between Theoderic and Odoacer that provided for them to occupy Ravenna together and rule jointly.

After a three-year siege, Theoderic entered the city on March 5. Odoacer was dead ten days later, slain by Theoderic while they shared a meal. Theoderic the Great was the King of the Ostrogoths and ruler of Italy after defeating the first barbarian king, Odoacer; he ruled Italy in its most peaceful and prosperous period since Valentinian until his death in Theoderic the Great — was king of the Ostrogoths — , ruler of Italy — , regent of the Visigoths — , and a patricius of the Roman Empire.


Theoderic was born in Pannonia in , after his people had defeated the Huns at the Battle of Nedao. Theoderic grew up as a hostage in Constantinople, received a privileged education, and succeeded his father as leader of the Pannonian Ostrogoths in Settling his people in lower Moesia, Theoderic came into conflict with Thracian Ostrogoths led by Theodoric Strabo, whom he eventually supplanted, uniting their peoples in Emperor Zeno subsequently gave Theoderic the title of Patrician and the office of Magister militum master of the soldiers , and even appointed him Roman Consul.

Seeking further gains, Theoderic frequently ravaged the provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire, eventually threatening Constantinople itself. In , Emperor Zeno ordered Theoderic to overthrow the German Foederatus Odoacer, who had likewise been made Patrician and even King of Italy, but who had since betrayed Zeno, supporting the rebellious Leontius. After a victorious three-year war, Theoderic killed Odoacer with his own hands, settled his , to , people in Italy, and founded an Ostrogothic Kingdom based in Ravenna.

While he promoted separation between the Arian Ostrogoths and the Roman population, Theoderic stressed the importance of racial harmony, though intermarriage was outlawed. Seeking to restore the glory of Ancient Rome, he ruled Italy in its most peaceful and prosperous period since Valentinian until his death in Memories of his reign made him a hero of German legend as Dietrich von Bern.

At the time, the Ostrogoths were settled in Byzantine territory as foederati allies of the Romans, but were becoming restless and increasingly difficult for Zeno to manage.

History of the Holy Roman Empire

Not long after Theoderic became king, he and Zeno worked out an arrangement beneficial to both sides. The Ostrogoths needed a place to live, and Zeno was having serious problems with Odoacer, the King of Italy who had come to power in Ostensibly a viceroy for Zeno, Odoacer was menacing Byzantine territory and not respecting the rights of Roman citizens in Italy.

Holy Roman Empire

Theoderic came with his army to Italy in , where he won the battles of Isonzo and Verona in and the battle at the Adda in In he took Ravenna. On February 2, , Theoderic and Odoacer signed a treaty that assured both parties would rule over Italy. A banquet was organized in order to celebrate this treaty. It was at this banquet that Theoderic, after making a toast, drew his sword and struck Odoacer on the collarbone, killing him.

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Like Odoacer, Theoderic was ostensibly only a viceroy for the emperor in Constantinople. In reality, he was able to avoid imperial supervision, and dealings between the emperor and Theoderic were as relations between equals. Unlike Odoacer, however, Theoderic respected the agreement he had made and allowed Roman citizens within his kingdom to be subject to Roman law and the Roman judicial system.

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The Goths, meanwhile, lived under their own laws and customs. In , when a mob burned down the synagogues of Ravenna, Theoderic ordered the town to rebuild them at its own expense. Theoderic the Great sought alliances with, or hegemony over, the other Germanic kingdoms in the West. He allied with the Franks by his marriage to Audofleda, sister of Clovis I, and married his own female relatives to princes or kings of the Visigoths, Vandals, and Burgundians. He stopped the Vandals from raiding his territories by threatening the weak Vandal king Thrasamund with invasion, and sent a guard of 5, troops with his sister Amalafrida when she married Thrasamund in For much of his reign, Theoderic was the de facto king of the Visigoths as well, becoming regent for the infant Visigothic king, his grandson Amalaric, following the defeat of Alaric II by the Franks under Clovis in The Franks were able to wrest control of Aquitaine from the Visigoths, but otherwise Theoderic was able to defeat their incursions.

The western—eastern division was a simplification and a literary device of 6th-century historians; political realities were more complex. Both tribes had variable relations with Rome throughout their history, ranging from direct conflict to treaties and mutual support. He had married off his daughter Amalasuntha to the Visigoth Eutharic, but Eutharic died in August or , so no lasting dynastic connection of Ostrogoths and Visigoths was established.

Theoderic retaliated by invading the Burgundian kingdom and then annexing its southern part, probably in Theoderic was planning an expedition to restore his power over the Vandal kingdom when he died in In the east, the situation was rather different. Here were existing, highly structured societies, usually based around networks of towns and cities, and with traditions of civilization which reached back for centuries. Rome found it relatively easy to administer these provinces: the basic structure of government, of urban life, of taxation, communications, and administration was already in place.

In cultural terms, however, the ancient societies of the east did not become Romanized to the same extent as the "barbarian" societies of the west: they were already secure in an ancient identity, the culture and institutions of Rome themselves largely derived from ancient Greece were less of a novelty, and, because things already worked with a fair degree of efficiency, the Romans felt less compulsion to impose change in order to be able to exploit and administer. The first contact which most people in the "barbarian" western provinces had with the Roman world was with the army, and the army became one of the most important early forces behind Romanization of the provinces.

From an early date, provincials and members of conquered nations were enlisted into the Roman army although the elite regiments, the legions, were reserved for Roman citizens.

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By the end of the 1st century, the army was mostly non-Italian: in the later Empire, troops of Germanic origin became increasingly important. The army brought many native people into contact with Roman ways and Roman money and, after discharge, a soldier could be eligible for Roman citizenship. The practice of settling retired legionary troops in coloniae, model towns often situated in newly conquered territory, was also important, providing shining examples of the advantages of civilized that is to say, Romanized life.

On a smaller scale, native people were encouraged to settle in vici, small civil settlements on the margins of forts, where they would be in close contact with, and be economically dependent upon, the occupying garrison. Towns and Cities. Despite the obvious economic importance of the countryside, Roman life was characteristically the life of the cities and towns. Romans considered the city an essential part of civilization, and it is certainly true that, especially in the west where settlement had previously been almost entirely rural , the creation of cities and towns was one of the most dramatic effects of Roman rule. Native people gravitated towards the towns: not only the upper classes, who were often enrolled as councillors and magistrates, but also the artisans and craftsmen who rapidly adopted the new styles and technologies. Provincial towns could be of great magnificence, and were regularly distinguished by fine public buildings, temples, and other amenities. As early as the reign of Augustus, the city of Augustodunum Autun , in central Gaul, was given walls and magnificent gates in a distinctive North Italian style which would not be disgraced by any building in Rome itself.

The recently recognized basilica the administrative headquarters of Roman London was one of the largest in the empire. Public buildings such as the theatre at Arausio Orange or the amphitheatre at Arelate Arles are, even today, of breathtaking magnificence, and testimony to the importance, not solely of the provincial towns, but of communal, urban life. Life in the Country.

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The effects of Romanization were also felt in the countryside. An immediate factor was the need to meet the demands of Roman taxation, and to produce a surplus to feed the non-productive populations of the towns.

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At first, Roman leaders sanctioned the settlement of these new peoples within the empire: they worked lands that had been abandoned and their warriors were recruited into the Roman army. Artillery fire forced the defenders from the ramparts, allowing the crusaders to storm the walls with ladders and slaughter most of the pagans. Italy and Her Invaders. The Frankish king and the Roman pontiff were for the time the two most powerful forces that urged the movement of the world, leading it on by swift steps to a mighty crisis of its fate, themselves guided, as it might well seem, by the purest zeal for its spiritual welfare. The joint tenancy which had been conceived by Diocletian, carried further by Constantine, renewed under Valentinian I and again at the death of Theodosius, had come to an end; once more did a single Emperor sway the sceptre of the world, and head an undivided Catholic Church. From an early date, provincials and members of conquered nations were enlisted into the Roman army although the elite regiments, the legions, were reserved for Roman citizens. In a year reign, he temporarily ended the cycle of bloodshed and instituted reforms that allowed the empire to endure until the late s.

In northern Britain the amount of land under cultivation increased dramatically at about the time of the arrival of the Roman army: this probably reflects the new demands that were being placed on the productive capacity of the countryside. A major transformation of the rural landscape was brought about by the introduction of the centralized and highly capitalized villa system of agriculture, which in some areas seems to have dominated the farming economy. Elsewhere, however, the impact of Roman rule upon the peasantry was probably less than it was upon those living in the towns.

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Individual farmsteads often continued to function without a break in much the same way as before Roman conquest, though the material possessions of the people were usually transformed, with pottery, glass, pins, and small metal objects, all in Roman provincial style, appearing at an early date at most rural ites.

There is evidence that Latin in the west was adopted almost universally,. As Roman rule and Roman culture spread, so did Roman religion. The Romans were remarkably eclectic in religious matters: while there were certain observances which had to be made, they were reluctant to exclude any other religious belief, and happy to accept most of the gods and practices of the subject peoples of the empire.

Rare exceptions were made in such cases as those of the Druids of Gaul, considered politically dangerous as well as unacceptable on account of their practice of human sacrifice , and of the early Christians, who insisted on the exclusive truth of their belief and so challenged the divine authority of the emperor.

04. The Christian Roman Empire

Usually, however, the Romans were content to apply a doctrine known as interpretatio Romana literally "Roman translation" , under which native gods were seen as equivalent to, or as aspects of, the more familiar gods of Rome. In this way the Celtic war-god Camulos was considered as being equivalent to Mars , and Brigantia, tutelary goddess of the northern Britons, was represented as Minerva Victrix. This doctrine made the spread of Roman religion throughout the empire remarkably easy.

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At the same time, Roman society absorbed many religious trends from the provinces: the cults of Mithras , Isis , Osiris , and, eventually, Christianity were all imported. Particularly important was the way in which religion, either as the cults of deified emperors or of those associated with living emperors such as that of the Unconquered Sun in the 3rd century , was used to reinforce and to legitimize the secular power of the imperial dynasties. Decline and Fall. From the beginning of the 3rd century, the Roman Empire was on the defensive, beset by economic and social problems from inside and faced with barbarian pressure from outside.

Septimius Severus ruled , after fighting bloody civil wars to establish his power, managed to extend Roman possessions in Mesopotamia, but was occupied in turning back a tide of barbarian invaders in northern Britain when he died in York. Under his reign, Italy lost many of its privileges, and had to pay provincial taxes: this was a symptom of the pressure which the demands of a huge army and growing civil service were placing upon the empire's revenues. The accession of Septimius Severus marked the beginning of a period in which the relatively ordered, hereditary imperial dynasties began to break down.